Debbie Street didn’t say “I told you so.” But the crash scene that unfolded Friday morning at the 90-degree curve above her home off Rose Crossing fit a scenario she has predicted for months.
Brooke Lipka was driving east on Rose Crossing. She was behind the wheel of a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado four-door pickup and her 3-month-old son was strapped in a car seat.
Around 8:15 a.m., fog hung low. Rose Crossing was slick with ice. Lipka approached the curve where the speed limit drops from 35 mph to 10 mph. She braked. The Silverado started sliding. It punched right through two concrete Jersey barriers and slid down the hill. Air bags deployed.
Lipka and her son escaped injury. But she was clearly shaken by the experience.
Street was home when the crash occurred and was alerted by a pet.
“My dog went ballistic,” she said.
She called 911 and rushed to the scene.
Street has repeatedly asked city and county officials to cooperate to find a plan to reduce safety hazards on Rose Crossing. She has reported that traffic on the road has increased dramatically since the road was extended beyond its former termination at Whitefish Stage to intersect with U.S. 93.
Motorists now use Rose Crossing to commute between U.S. 2 and U.S. 93 instead of taking the more congested West Reserve Drive, she has said.
And the Kalispell North Town Center development and the separate Eagle Valley Ranch project will dramatically increase use of Rose Crossing, Street added.
This fall, she suggested to city officials that they ask developers of the projects to contribute toward an expanded traffic study, but that idea hasn’t gained traction.
At the crash scene Friday, Street said, “I don’t want people to die because people have poor planning skills.”
Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Chan Barry was one of the state troopers who responded to the scene Friday.
Barry said that if Rose Crossing is destined to carry more traffic, it isn’t really designed for high traffic volume. He gestured to the sharp curve and the comparatively steep, narrow hill that handles traffic heading up and down the road at the curve.
“I’m not an engineer, but this is a pretty tough problem,” Barry said.
Flathead County Commissioner Randy Brodehl acknowledged Friday that Rose Crossing presents challenges.
“We’ve got an issue there, absolutely, no doubt about it,” he said.
He said state, city and county officials “have to be able to work together to come up with a solution.”
Brodehl said property owners along Rose Crossing might need to join the discussion, depending on what possible remedies emerge.
He said he isn’t sure how the developers of Kalispell North Town Center and Eagle Valley Ranch could be involved.
“We’re certainly not at a point yet of looking at where the money comes from or who’s responsible,” Brodehl said.
Street has been documenting vehicle mishaps at the curve. She had predicted an increase during wintry driving conditions.
Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 758-4407.